Archive for the ‘Dave’s Cool Toys information’ Category

Changes Coming to

lego builders at

Dave’s Cool Toys will be going through some changes and updates in the next month or so. There may be times when our site is not available or the shopping cart may not be available to place an order.

If you find our site is not available, it does not mean we are gone, only that we are currently making updates and upgrades to the site. Check back soon and things should be back to normal (only better)!

Some of the changes to the site will be obvious, and some will be behind-the-scenes and our customers will not notice any changes.

Thank you for your patience while we make these upgrades.

This post will remain at the top of our blog during this time. Scroll down for most recent posts!

Dave’s Cool Toy of the Day: Hand Bubblers

hand bubbler
Green Spiral Hand Bubbler

One of my favorite toys is the Hand Bubbler, sometimes called Hand Boilers.

Not only do they look stunning sitting on a shelf, but they are addictive to play with.

They don’t really do too much, but what they do is really cool. You simply pick one up and hold the bottom bulb in your hand and the fluid expands up the tube and into the top bulb. After a bit, it starts bubbling in the top bulb, thus the name "Hand Bubbler".

I have one that sits on a shelf by my desk (shown here). While I’m working I like to take it down and bubble it. Every so often, I’ll be sitting here working and something catches my attention out of the corner of my eye. It will be my hand bubbler, slowly bubbling on it’s own. I’m not really sure why it does that.

They come in lots of shapes and sizes. There are even pens with little bubblers on the top. Dave’s Cool Toys carries an assortment of four colors and shapes. When you order, you will get a random selection. If you order more than one, we will ship different ones.

Hand Bubbler are also used as an experimental tool to demonstrate Charles’s Law and vapor-liquid equilibrium. The liquid’s boiling point in the bottom bulb is just above room temperature. When you hold it in your hand, it starts to boil and is forced up the tube as the gasses in the bottom bulb expand. When you release it, the gasses are able to condense and the liquid goes back down into the bottom bulb. You can speed this up by holding the top bulb in your hand.

They are sometimes also sold as "Love Meters".

Hand Bubblers are a great toy, but they are not really meant for children due to their all-glass construction as well as the volatile fluid inside.


The Uglydolls will be Starring in Their Own Movie

A few Ugly’s

One of our favorite toys is the Uglydolls. We’ve sold Uglydolls at Dave’s Cool Toys since they first came out, I believe. At that time there was Wage, Babo, Cinko, Target, Tray, and Jeero, followed soon after by Icebat, Wedgehead, and Ox.

In the years since, Uglydolls has grown into an enormous franchise. In addition to lots more regular Uglydolls, they’ve has added Little Ugly’s, keychains, giant Ugly’s, comic books, vinyl, note pads, watches, cookie jars, t-shirts, games, mugs, watches, tote bags, tin toys, pillows, and even Swarovski Crystal iPad cases.

We’ve seen them on Good Morning America, in the movie Zathura (Icebat gets destroyed by a meteor), and one was spotted hitching a ride on Sasha Obama’s backpack on the first day of school.

Now we’ve gotten news from Uglydoll that they will have their own movie!

Illumination Entertainment, who have made the films Despicable Me and Hop, have acquired the rights to turn the Uglydolls into an animated feature. They will develop the film with Universal Pictures. Uglydolls creators David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim will be executive producers. They plan on starting with a feature film and branching into wider media opportunities after that.

Illumination’s first feature release, Despicable Me, is being turned into a Universal theme park attraction. They are currently developing a stop-motion film based on the original Addams Familycharacters from the comic created by Charles Addams, directed by none other than Tim Burton. They are also working on The Lorax based on the Dr. Seuss book as well as a computer animated film based on Ricky Gervais’ book series Flanimals (which I’m sorry to say I’m not familiar with).

It’s still a little early for any further information on the Uglydolls movie, but we’ll post it here as soon as we hear anything more.

Time to stock up on Bangsite for your Big Bang Cannon

Stock up on Bangsite now for the 4th

The Fourth of July is right around the corner. If you have a Big Bang Cannon, it’s time to get it out and make sure it’s cleaned up and ready. If you have an older cannon you haven’t fired in a many years, go find it and clean it up. With just a little effort, it should work fine. (Check out my prior blog post where I cleaned up a neighbor’s old cannon.)

It’s also time to stock up on Bangsite and Spark Plugs so you’re ready to celebrate.

Big Bang Cannon Flint

Go find your cannon and any bangsite you may have. First check the cannon for any buildup in the firing chamber. If you have lime buildup, I suggest soaking it with CLR to clear it out (it’s available at most grocery stores). A clean firing chamber will give you the best performance.

Next, check the spark plug and be sure it’s still making a good spark.

6F Big Bang Cannon
Our Best Selling Big Bang Cannon

Lastly, check your Bangsite. If you have an open container, it’s probably not good anymore. If it looks like dust or flour, dispose of it. It won’t work. It should look dark and granular. Unopened tubes should still be good, unless they’re very old. If you need Bangsite of Spark Plugs, order them now to be sure you have them when you want to use your cannon.

Dave’s Cool Toys has a great 3-pack deal on Bangsite and Spark Plugs for $27.49. You get 3 tubes and 3 flints.

Be sure to check out our Big Bang Cannon page for other tips and lots of great information.

Rainbow in Your Hand Flipbook is Back!

rainbow in your hand
Rainbow Flibpook is Back!

They’re Back! Yes, we have Rainbow in Your Hand Flipbooks back in stock. We got a bunch in, but they sold out pretty quickly last time, so get yours before they’re sold out again.

Dave’s Cool Toys may be the only place in the world you can get the Rainbow in Your Hand Flipbooks at this time. The publisher in Japan is even out of them. So when we are sold-out it may be a while until we can get more in.

I’ll be posting a video of this on YouTube shortly, so watch for it.

A Rainbow In Your Hand Flipbook. Absolutely amazing!

My friend, Rich, recently alerted me to the coolest flipbook he found on the web. I loved it and had to have one for myself, but they were only available from one website in Japan. Since Dave’s Cool Toys only sells toys that I think are very cool, I imported the flipbook from Japan and as near as I can tell, we are the only place in the US that they are currently available.

Masashi Kawamura
Rainbow in Your Hand Flipbook

The flipbook is called Rainbow in Your Hand. Most flipbooks create the illusion of a little movie when you flip them. Rainbow in Your Hand instead creates the 3-D illusion of a rainbow floating above the book when you flip it.

Each page is printed front and back with the visible color spectrum on a black background. When you flip it as shown in the photo, the flipping pages with the image of the spectrum are what creates the illusion as they fly past.

It’s very creative and was the brainchild of Masashi Kawamura, a Japanese art director. He created it as a personal project. Rainbow in Your Hand also won the NY Art Directors Club Silver Cube award.

It seems that Rainbow in Your Hand works best against a black background as shown in the photo. I’ll get a video up on YouTube as soon as I can shoot it.

Where are your cannons? Oops.

Our best selling Big Bang Cannon

What happened to our cannons?!

If you were on our site recently looking for Big Bang Cannons, you might not have been able to find them. A helpful customer called to say that they were not displaying.

Well, I’m not entirely sure what happened, but for some reason they all disappeared.

The good news is that they are back now. So if you had wanted to purchase a Big Bang Cannon and couldn’t find them, they are back now. If you haven’t seen them, check them out.


How long is your snake?

amazon tree boa
Measuring snakes on my desk

Sometimes my job is very surreal. This morning I find myself measuring rubber snakes.

The other day we had an order for the Amazon Tree Boa (my favorite of the snakes we sell). When the customer received it they felt that it was far smaller than was on our website. The description on our site lists the guy as 56 inches long (which is what the manufacturer says). The customer measured it at 50 inches.

I try to be as accurate as possible in describing our toys and I never just use the description the manufacturer uses because I don’t like "puffery" (with apologies to Domino’s) and don’t feel they are always adequate. So I do research, I check out the toy myself, sometimes I play with it, and I write my own descriptions.

Well, after measuring the Amazon Tree Boa myself, I found he fell a little short of 56 inches. Yes, it’s true, I’m not perfect. I measured him at about 51 inches from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. I used string to measure every twist and turn in his body, then measured the string.

So, this morning I have updated the description with a slightly more accurate one.

And I spent my morning measuring a plastic boa constrictor.

Shhh. How this top works is “Top Secret”

Many, many years ago I had a great little toy. It was a small top that you spun on a black base. It didn’t float like the Levitron. But it had a great trick of it’s own. It would spin for days! My friends thought it was the coolest thing when they would see it in my room (yes, we were dorks). But it WAS amazing. The top didn’t just sit there spinning it bopped around on the base and sometimes it would spiral around toward the center.

Many years later, when I started Dave’s Cool Toys, this cool little top was on my list of toys I wanted to carry, but I couldn’t find it. But recently, one of our suppliers began to offer it and we recently added Top Secret to our line of cool toys. Of course, the minute they came in, I took one for myself and it’s been spinning on-an-off ever since. My kids love it.

HOW IT WORKS: No, it’s not perpetual motion. It cheats by using a hidden battery and circuitry.

This is how the manufacturer explains it on their website:
"Top Secret" consists of a spinning top with a radially oriented magnetic field and an associated base that houses a conductive coil. When the top spins past the center of the base, its changing magnetic field induces a current in the coil which momentarily opens the switch to the battery resulting in powering up the electromagnet. The electromagnet then delivers enough torque to the spinning top to allow it to speed up and spin away from the center. Since the electromagnet is only engaged when the top crosses near the center of the base, one 9 volt battery can last for over a week of continual use!

I do not know too much about electronics, and my eyes sort-of glazed over when I read this. But, here’s the way I understand it. There’s an electromagnet in the base run by a 9 volt battery and a magnet in the top. The base is concave, so it slopes down in the middle. The electromagnet turns on when the top gets near the center (when it’s slowing down). This turns on the electromagnet, which spins the top faster and sends it on it’s way until the next time.

My friend Richard added "it’s exactly like a brushless DC motor where the armature is free to roam about." Yes, Richard was one of those dorky friends. Still is.

More importantly, it’s a very cool toy. Check it out here.

And check out a short video I made of it below.

Big Bang Cannon Price Increase (sorry)

Civil War Cannon

One of my favorite items, and also one or our most popular, are Big Bang Cannons. Unfortunately, we have been forced to increase our prices on most of these cannons due to an increase from the manufacturer. Like most products, due to higher costs, they had to raise prices. The last time they had an increase was in 2000, so it is understandable. However, since the price has not changed for 10 years, the increase has been a substantial one.

We are sorry for this increase, but we have kept the prices as low as we possibly can. Subscribers to our newsletter were alerted early to the increase so they had a chance to purchase a cannon before they went up (shameless plug).

All the brass cannons are the same price at this time.

Incidentally, If you aren’t familiar with this great item, don’t miss my Big Bang Cannon information page with all the information you could possibly want to know about them.

New Wooden toys: Baby Rattle and Speed Boat

Square maple baby rattle.

I added two new items to today that I think are both great.

The first is a new Wooden Baby Rattle. I really love this rattle. I don’t know how to tell you how this rattle feels in your hands. It’s very smooth and tactile and I just can’t stop holding it. The rattle is concealed inside so it appears as one single block of wood. The price may seem a little steep at $17.99, but it is handcrafted in the USA by our supplier (no mass-produced overseas stuff here) and is sanded smooth with all rounded edges making very safe. It would make a great heirloom gift for a new baby.

Wooden race boat

The second item is a Wooden Race Boat. This little boat is a great item for the bath, the pool, your local pond, or even a puddle. This items is also hand made in the USA and costs $15.99. I’m not crazy about the picture I have of this item right now, but I’ll get a better one soon because it doesn’t do it justice. Wind up the propeller (make sure you wind in the right direction or it will go backwards) and set it in the water to watch it go. Obviously, it would be great to have two for races. It’s finished with simple mineral oil so that it will stand up to use in water. You might want to give it another coat now and then to keep it in good shape.

This is by the same craftsman that makes the rattle and we are always pleased with his items (he also makes one of my favorite items, the Wooden Decoders Set. They are both made from all-natural materials with a natural oil finish.

Dave’s AntWorks Day 35: Bring Out Your Dead

My AntWorks on day 35 (shown here in light with the Illuminator)

It’s been a while since I posted on the progress of my AntWorks. Today is day 35 since my ants arrived and went into their new home. They haven’t been very active for quite a few days, so there wasn’t much to post about. They are no longer tunnelling, and we’ve had quite a few ant deaths. I count about 12 ants left alive in our little "colony".

As you can see, they built about 10 tunnels through the gel. They also cleared out quite a bit of tunnel area in the bottom of the AntWorks. There are two small starter tunnels that I first created that the ants completely ignored. You can see them on the top towards the right.

The ants haven’t been quite as active in general recently. They spend most of their time in the bottom cavern area. Even so, there is usually at least one ant in the top area, on the "surface". This has prevented me from being able to clear out the dead ants, as the ones in the top try immediately to escape when the top is open. Within a few moments of opening the top, the ants in the tunnels race to the surface as well.

AntWorks top view
Now’s our chance to escape!

In the photo on the right, you can see all the deceased ant parts that are on the surface. I had the lid off for only a brief moment to take this picture and one ant escaped and had to be pushed back into the AntWorks. You can see two live ants attempting escape in this picture.

If you’re thinking of purchasing an AntWorks colony, you may be thinking to yourself "it’s cool, but I don’t want to deal with all the dead ants. That’s really gross". Well, I can see your point, but that is also part of life sciences. The ants do die. It is also interesting the way the ants bring their dead companions to the surface and usually bury them. They seem to have gotten a bit lazier about burying them now, but in the past, they had them quite well buried in the gel chunks that they had moved to the surface. One thing this illustrates is how well the gel provides for the ants as food, water, tunneling medium, and burial material.

Dead Ants
The carnage!

As for clearing out the dead ants, I have heard from a student that was part of the original Ants in Space program with NASA, and she assured me that I could refrigerate the ants to slow down their metabolism without harming the ants or the gel. I knew it wouldn’t harm the ants from the first day, when we refrigerated them to put them in the AntWorks, according to the directions, but I wasn’t sure what would happen to the gel. But this information has given me the courage to try it.

I refrigerated my AntWorks for 10 minutes, but when I checked my ants, they seemed more active than before! How strange. So I left them in for a bit longer. It took almost 25 minutes before they began to show signs of slowing down even a little. So, I took them out of the fridge, and took the top off, but they were still pretty active, and I had to really hurry to get the little body parts out. I wasn’t able to get them all because a few ants kept coming to the top and trying to get out, so I got out what I could quickly and closed my AntWorks up again. Since I was rushing, I didn’t get any pictures of this, but I took a picture of the bits I did manage to get out.

Dave’s AntWorks Day 7, 8, and 9: Tunnel Vision

The tunnels are multiplying

I didn’t post over the weekend, so there has been quite a bit more progress on my ants tunnels. These ants weren’t very imaginative so far, making their tunnels along the bottom and corners of the AntWorks habitat. But now they are branching out and making some more complex tunnels. You can see the partially complete tunnel they’ve been working on today (although it doesn’t have any ants in it in this picture). It is about halfway down in the gel, sticking up from the curved tunnel toward the right of the photo. It comes off the tunnel in the back and goes forward through the gel until it hits the plastic front. After I took this picture, the ants started enlarging the end of that tunnel. There were 3 ants all working on it at the same time.

You can’t see it in the picture from the front, but they have also been tunnelling through the gel piles that they have made on the top of the "surface" So I’ve taken a photo from the top, looking down to try to show them. The surface is quite bumpy from all the holes and tunnels.

Cross Tunnels

At the bottom of the AntWorks, they have created two cross tunnels, which look like a little cavern when you look in from the front or back. I’ve tried to get a picture of it here, but it didn’t show it too well.

I think I’ve had 2 casualties. I’m pretty sure there is a dead ant encased in the gel pile in the upper right. When there are no ants on top I’ll check on it and remove whatever is there. There also seems to be a dead ant in the bottom tunnel. Hopefully, they will bring her out.

Tunnelling through the gel piles

The ants mostly seem to congregate in the bottom-most tunnel, where they are all hanging out in most of my pictures.

The instructions tell you to open the lid once every week or so. For the writing and photography of this series of posts, I’ve opened the lid much more often than that. I didn’t think it would matter, but I have noticed that the gasket around the lid has begun to get smooshed up a bit, which could cause trouble if it got worse, so we won’t be opening it up quite as much and I’ll be more careful with it when I do. I would suggest following the guidelines that came with your AntWorks and not removing the lid as often as we have.

Dave’s AntWorks Day 6: Back to work

Today our ants are tunneling again in their AntWorks home, so I’ve uploaded a video of their new tunnel. They are just about to break through. Once they do, they will create a sort-of Grand Central Station with 5 tunnels all converging in one spot. This is lit with the AntWorks Illuminator.

Dave’s AntWorks Day 5: Ants take a break

AntWorks from above
They look like ants from up here!

My ants haven’t been doing much tunneling. It’s been a bit cooler here so maybe it’s due to the temperature.

I thought there was a dead ant in the gel on the top, but when I dug down a bit into it, it was apparently just ant poop. You can see the dark spot in the picture here, just above the ant in the middle of the picture. This picture is looking down from above through the lid. There was also a bit of condensation on the lid which I wiped off. You can also see down through the tubes in this picture.

Speaking of the lid, my sister-in-law expressed concern that her cat might knock over the AntWorks and let them escape. So I thought I’d mention that the AntWorks is not glass, but plastic, and the lid fits on quite tightly. It could not be accidentally knocked off and it actually takes a bit of prying to get it off.

Since I didn’t have much to share in the way of new tunnels today, I thought I’d post a video I came across which shows what happened to someone else when their AntWorks gel pulled away from the side a bit, and two curious ants got stuck between the gel and the wall. I really don’t know how this could happen. The gel is very tight (it seems like it has been poured in as a liquid and set-up inside the container) and it would take something serious to pull it away from the side. Perhaps they dropped it. It’s a long video, but you could zoom ahead to see the outcome.

Dave’s Cool Toys Blog
We post news about new toys on our site, new toys in the market, general toy information, or stuff we just thought was cool (usually toys).

We welcome your feedback and comments.

Be sure to check out our toys at Dave's Cool Toys. We work hard to find toys you won't find at the big box stores. Now go out and play!

Dave Ference

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